More Impressed!

I am more impressed everyday with the purchase of the DXE 5-Band Hex Beam. Now I just wish I could get it mounted on the Rohn H50 and push this antenna up to my operating height of 25′. Unfortunately, I am still limited to about 15′ because I have not yet found the telescoping mast I desire. So in the meantime it is temporarily mounted about about 15′ on a makeshift mast, with parts borrowed from my 6BTV setup. Instead of a fancy Yaesu G-450A rotator, I am using the “armstrong mode” when I need to change direction. I have two guy wires on opposing spreaders and when I need to move it I grab one and spin the hex around.

Last night I had the radio on while I was in the shack and ended up working 3 new DXCC entities on RTTY. I was able to work UA0IT and DV1JM on 20M, as well as KH2L on 15M. The day before I logged EA1SA on 20M RTTY as well. I have been very impressed with what I can not only hear buy work, with or without my amp on. If I would have found out about this beam before I purchased the SteppIR I would not have stayed with a vertical.

The only sticking point that remains is the HOA. I have yet to e-mail the representative of the management company and inform her of what I have erected in the backyard. It is much less obtrusive than a 32′ vertical. It is not that easy to see from the road when approaching our house that parallels the backyard because it gets lost in the trees and houses and is somewhat camouflaged. Of course when you get closer to the backyard you can see it, but it is not readily seen. Once I have the telescoping mast in place it will even be lower when retracted. If you ask me, this is win win for myself and the HOA if I can convince them.

Anyway I am looking to log some more DX this afternoon. On the Hex Beam Yahoo Group I communicated with KH2X on Guam and hope to get a chance to work him today on 17M, my first hex to hex QSO. At the rate I am going I hope to work my first 100 DXCC entities before the end of the year.

Online Log Search

After months of search, scouring the Internet for a way to parse by ADIF file and create logbook that would allow users to search for their call sign I stumbled upon HRDlog. It works in conjunction with HRD or Ham Radio Deluxe, which is a powerful suite of programs for any amateur operator.

My online log search is now more personalized, matching the theme of The 6th Floor and I really like the addition to the site. It also plots your QSOs, based on mode, as well as lists your last 20 QSOs. Good stuff.

Big props to IW1QH, this is an excellent addition to HRD!

CQ Bitch Fest CQ Bitch Fest

Being involved in online communities, I guess it comes as no surprise that regardless of what community you join there will ALWAYS be individuals who have nothing better to do than complain. The online gaming community I helped create and support was probably the worst, but I am beginning to see that dark and ugly underbelly of amateur radio come to life during contest weekends, online.

There is no love lost between the groups labeled as “contesters” and “non-contesters” and the arguments are always the same when they show up online. The contesters claim “its only a weekend” or “go work the WARC bands.” Non-contesters who want nothing to do claim the big amps and high towers fill up the bands and make any sort of ragchewing or operating nearly impossible. This after the week leading up to a contest, like many are usually fairly quiet, outside of a DXpedition.

Let’s not forget about the plethora of nets that meet on designated frequencies. While these nets do not “own” the frequency they lay claim to a frequency nearly 24/7. Take for example the Maritime Net on 14.300. I can understand non North American operators calling CQ on this frequency, but if a frequency is not in use, then it is free for anyone to use.

Another contention from the non contester is the false exchange of every QSO being “59.” This after it takes numerous calls to get the other station’s call sign correct. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not much for ragchewing. Sure there are times I get on a topic or subject with another amateur and we end up talking for 30-45 minutes. I don’t have any problems, but it’s not primary interest in amateur radio.

As for contesting, I am just a rookie, still wet behind the ears trying to improve my operating and scores every contest I entire. While I would love to be a full time participant at N6RO, the local “big gun” in Oakley, CA I am nowhere near the quality of some excellent operators who frequent that locale nearly every contest weekend. But, observing and getting my feet wet working some of the “slower” bands during a group effort is a way to improve myself.

So how do we appease everyone in the amateur radio community? You can’t. Contests will continue and the complaining from both sides will continue. Best thing I can do, not to visit these online communities during contest weekend because of all the negativity that emerges during the weekend. I will continue to do my best during these weekends to work as many stations as possible, not only to improve myself but to provide support and contribution to my contest club.

2009 CQ World Wide DX – SSB

Contest: CQ World Wide DX
Date: October 24-25, 2009
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

40 / 6 / 5 / 3
20 / 65 / 13 / 19
15 / 32 / 12 / 13
TOTAL: 103 QSO / 30 CQ / 35 PFX
SCORE: 18,200 (TIME ON: 4 H 47 Mn)

SOAPBOX: While I won’t call it memorable, I will call it a great time. As chance would have it I called in AB-109 (day off) to work last Friday to take Saturday off because my son was sick. I just happen to go out to the shack that Friday and realized there was the CQWW DX – RTTY this (last) weekend. While I have yet to make any serious attempt at any contest yet, this being my second year, first full year in contesting I decided to set up the station for the RTTY contest.

Currently running using a loaner rig, FT-1000MP, the same rig I use and my new SteppIR BigIR I was curious to see just what I could do. I had some issues configuring Win-Test 4, the contesting software I use. I thought I had it all worked out, ran some tests and figured I was ready to go come Friday at 0000z. As radios go, it did not work when I sat down and started participating. Still not quite sure why.

So I decided I would still participate, in part for our overall club score, doing what I could. I used my everyday logging software, AC Log and Ham Radio Deluxe (yes, I know there is a logging program in there) and played from the start until 0400z. It was rather cumbersome, but I collected a fair amount of contacts on 20M, as well on 40. In fact I even recorded 3 QSOs on 80m before the XYL put a stop to that. Seems when I would key up it would knock out the ATT Uverse modem. Yet another reoccurring problem. Damn that RF!

Saturday was a very good day, as we seemed to have some modest propagation, compared to the past few weeks. I played nearly all day on Saturday, on and off as I was taking care of my son. The Alpha 76PA was a solid performer and seemed to work as expected. I was putting out between 900-1500w all day long. Yet looking at my signal on DM780 it seemed as if it was not a good signal, but a strong signal. My guess is I have loss in the line or the 50 ohm match is not close to 50 ohm. I ran most of the contest with the internal tuner off.

I ended up with 172 contacts for 47,765 points. I made many EU contacts, something I had not really done prior to this contest. I logged a total of 40 countries, which was a new high for me, as well as 32 states. I was shooting for 250 contacts but ran out of time and the way I was working was cumbersome.

I plan on putting time into the station the next few days in order to work out the rest of the these problems. I might even look at selling the West Mountain RIGblaster Pro and set up with a Micro Keyer. The problem is a configuration issues and it’s just a matter of where do I start? There are enough Yahoo Groups (FT1000, Rigblaster and MMTTY) I subscribe to that help will be plentiful.

I hope to have the station is good working order by next weekend as the California QSO Party will be on the air. While I won’t be participating at N6RO, I will hopefully put in my time from the home station. This will be the first time I will have participated in this sort of contest where I will be handing out points and calling CQ.